Page 2 of 6 FirstFirst 1234 ... LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 59

Thread: Genuflection

  1. #11


    Chapter 6a: Infatuation

    Reika felt her eyelids flutter slightly. Sitting up, she looked around. Beside her was Alex, breathing softly, facing her; his hand had fallen from her waist, landing on the soft floor. She took tentative steps towards the exit, afraid of disturbing Alex, and glanced around. On the west, the moon was setting over the sea, giving Lith Harbor the illusion of glowing. Lying on the grass, she stared up into the night sky, trying to identify the constellations, that which the captains of ships maneuvered by. The only one which she could was Pegasus, and it was only because of the quadrilateral that marked its body. Pointing up, she absently traced its neck, its body... Something strong, but yet gentle took her right hand and changed its direction, further north. Turning, she saw Alex there, smiling gently. "Look up," he said, softly, and she obeyed. Tracing 7 stars in the fashion of a trough, three of which made up the handle and four, the container, he said, "That's the Great Dipper, the seven brightest stars in Ursa Major, the great bear. The square there-" He traced the four stars again using her finger, and continued, "Are its hindquarters. The last three are its tail." An expression of comprehension dawned, along with a new question. "Why is it called Ursa Major? I don't see a bear anywhere..." Alex let go of her hand and commented, "Questions, questions." Raising an eyebrow, Reika retorted, "Didn't you say that in the afternoon?" Alex murmured something inaudibly; Reika had opened her mouth very slightly, about to ask "hmm?", when Alex moved.


    Reika's senses were on overload. Eyes shut, she saw a kaleidoscope of colors blaze, like the Aurora but a million times closer; she could feel Alex's gentle breath on her right cheek, his nose pressed lightly against it; his hand was on her waist, holding it gently; she could feel his stiff back, hardened from tension - all these were processed in an instant, yet she couldn't take note of anything except Alex's tongue, gently probing within her mouth, asserting its superiority over hers'. Moaning slightly, she pushed away slightly, opening her eyes to see Alex's, staring back; there was a visible pink tinge on his cheeks. The silence was extensive; by the time they'd come back to full consciousness, the sun was already rising over Ellinia, slightly blurring the treetops and bathing the entire forest in a warm golden glow. Nuzzling Reika slightly, Alex stood up and looked ahead, spotting a town near the base of the forest, a town atop a small hill.


    The worst things happen at the worst times.

    The children were frolicking in the area behind the town, where a large, unfrozen lake stood at the base of the majestic mountains that made El Nath what it was - a snowfield. All around it were pine trees, small enough to let light through but big enough to provide shade against the afternoon sun. Alex walked amongst those trees, looking around. Although four, he was already intelligent enough to communicate his thoughts to others. Whirling around to a rustle, he was about to call out when he saw who it was. "Trista, did you have to scare me like that?" She smiled slightly and shrugged, nudging him. Alex sat down, inviting her to do so, but instead of complying, she replied, "Passing through. I have to go back to town, be back in four hours, okay?" Alex nodded and turned...


    Chapter 6b: Dragonic

    Fights often reached a certain point where both parties can exert no more energy, and continue full steam ahead till their fuel ran out - the fight near the northern fringe of Ellinia was now such a fight. Ares struggled against the power of a dragon that had been tamed; although more than capable of defeating it, he couldn't possibly do so without injuries; Sanctuary didn't work, and dragons had the advantage of range; if his enemy stayed far, he couldn't possibly hit him. Groaning with the strain of a battle which he hadn't experienced for a long time, Ares summoned all the energy he could and focused on the enemy. Casting Holy Charge, he jumped forwards and slashed quickly, again and again, forcing the Dark Knight to dodge; in the moment that Ares took to land, the dragon released a pulse of energy. Although blocked using a shield summoned from fire, the effect was enough to knock the breath out of him - the Dark Knight took the chance to unleash a Buster on him; the combined force of three spears hit him, knocking him back; rolling, he executed a perfect Rush while still getting up, stunning the Dark Knight with his speed and power; before he even had a chance to retaliate, he was knocked back ten feet by a Brandish reinforced with holy power. Standing, the Dark Knight raised his spear and looked back with a confident expression. "Ares, give up. You'll never defeat me." Raising an eyebrow, he decided on his course of action; even though it would take up nearly all of his remaining physical energy, he would, at least, be able to take down the Dark Knight and the dragon in one hit. Before he could even react, the Dark Knight vanished, and he felt a spearhead touching his skin; turning, he blocked with his sword, just in time. "The seven chakras... I am able to unlock five of them already." Ares raised an eyebrow, both in shock and amusement.

    "Give up, and drop your sword."

    Complying, Ares dropped it and whirled around; pure energy leapt from him. Slashing with a sword, he created an energy beam that knocked the Dark Knight back; immediately, he raised his left palm and a ball of fire flew forward. The dual combo hit him like a one-two punch, and he fell backwards, the dragon above him flinching from their bond. Ares smiled slightly. Still not out of touch. Jumping forwards, he slashed twice, shouting, "Brandish!" As the Dark Knight moved to block, Ares slashed upwards, catching him by surprise. Before blood could even spill, the weirdest thing happened.


    A dragon is bound eternally to its host; that is, the moment the host dies, the dragon ceases to exist. Therefore, a Dark Knight is truly the most powerful at the moment of death, when the dragon unleashes all of its power and energy; this was what was happening to the unnamed Dark Knight. The moment Ares sliced upwards, the katana had found his heart, but the bloody didn't spill; in the same moment, the dragon had felt its presence vanishing and released all its energy barriers in a fantastic display of light. The Dark Knight's body disintegrated, exploding in a shower of red sparks and blue light. Shimmering, the Dark Knight's soul floated for a while, before finally vanishing, causing a gigantic pulse of energy to expand outwards in a concentric circle, heading towards the northern sea as well as inland, towards the forests of Ellinia and the gigantic World Tree, the plant that sustained the whole world. The blast hit Ares like a lethal sword would; when the light finally dispersed, Ares was lying on the ground, seconds from death. All around him, the blood flowed into the cracks of the barren land, torn open by the battle.

    Beneath, an ancient creature stirred.

    Chapter 6c: Siren

    Knelt on the ground, Claire tried to stifle a groan, but Kon's extra-sharp hearing picked that up. With a sardonic smile, he looked at the Knight, and commented, "Your behavior dishonors that of a Knight. We Thieves were brought up to fear Knights because of their superb ability to bend elements in order to defend themselves... and definitely purge poison. But look at you. Just this little bit already brings you to your knees, half-dead. I really am disappointed. And, by the way, that suit of yours..." he pointed to the suit, now having cuts all over it, and continued, "Is the famed Battlesuit, is it not? Capable of defending against magic by dispersing it, and against weapon attacks to some degree. Also, very malleable, and light enough to give slightly more mobility than the regular warrior armor. A really amazing piece of work. However, it still doesn't prevent you from suffering from the poison, does it?" He fell silent, watching Claire as she gasped for air; the poison was already doing its work, clouding up her respiratory tract and constricting her bronchi, preventing air from entering.

    Around them, wind whistled, buffeted by the World Tree not more than a couple hundred meters behind Claire; the fiery creatures of the Deep Valley preferred the warmness of the Burnt Land instead of being so close to the structure of life. As if to mock her, the Tree inhaled a large breath of air, along with gallons of water from the Ossyrian sea beneath. Now near death, Claire could feel all of her senses taking in the battleground around them - the rocky walls, leaves from the World Tree; the smell of bark, with the slightest hint of charring; the feel of the wind against her, blowing her hair backwards. Finally, Kon spoke, and the wind died down. "It's a pity, really, that I have do this. But I had explicit orders, and I have to fulfill them. You would have made a nice student, seeing as you have the potential of doing amazing things with auras." Bowing, this time sincerely, Kon strode forwards, and Claire felt her body racketing by a sudden surge of pain. Her heart, lungs and stomach hurt, but her head was strangely clear.

    Her last sight was of Kon stepping forwards; shortly after that, her world was plunged into a sea of darkness.


    Just as he slashed down, Kon was caught by surprise - a shell of water had enveloped Claire, blocking all attacks; his dagger hit water that was surprisingly solid. Immediately, the spot where he hit froze over, embedding his dagger an inch deep. Cursing, he twisted the dagger and whispered, "Disorder." The mana around the ice shuddered, but didn't give way; he opened his eyes in surprise. First time it hasn't worked in ages... are her Knight powers finally showing? Pressing the dagger in further, he threw five Ilbis in succession, forming a neat circle of two inch radius; hitting the dagger blade, he braced himself as the ice shattered, the coldness hitting him full in the face. Leaping backwards, he looked on in amazement as the shell reformed almost immediately, the water still, revealing the girl. Her hair had grown longer, her eyes strangely blue. Could this possibly be... No, didn't the girl Alexis die? Before he could reflect, a mini-tsunami appeared from the shell, leaping forwards at him; cursing again, he rolled sideways, but the water just followed. Throwing a barrage of stars at the water, he caused it to slow almost imperceptibly, but enough for him to get on his feet and cast Haste. Flash Jumping forwards, he crashed straight into the water, tearing the wave neatly in half and landing on top of the shell; before it could freeze his feet, he had leapt forwards again. Now separating Claire and the World Tree, he looked at the shell - it had become passive.

    Assuming it IS the Siren, how could it be drawing water? It has to be weakened by so many years of lack of practice, and here, the ground is so thick, pristine... it's impossible to draw from the Ossyrian sea... so how the hell is she getting so much water to maintain the shell? Surely, it can't be self-sustaining? Also, it has to pause for quite a while before commencing its attack, so it's reasonable to assume that it's busy keeping the girl alive. Ugh, why do I have to assume so many things? Stepping forwards, he felt a cold rush of air hit him; turning, he saw, to his immense surprise, that the World Tree was inhaling air and water again. It never inhales twice in a row? What's causing this sudden need for water- Stunned by the revelation, he ground his molars. Drawing from the World Tree itself?! There's no time for reflection, I've got to keep it busy. Using Assaulter, he felt his dagger crash into solid water; before it could freeze, he slashed quickly at the water, hoping that Savage Blow would suffice to weaken it; to his relief, it didn't freeze, but it didn't give way either. "Dark Sight," he whispered, and moved slowly; immediately, the ground flooded with water, so that every step on the ground caused a footprint to appear, along with a tiny splash. "Damn your intelligence," he growled, as he Flash Jumped forwards; just as he reached the peak over the shell, he dispelled it and used momentum to carry him straight downwards. The moment it made contact, he slashed left, then right again, before rolling backwards. "Shoot, if Assassination can't even penetrate the shell... then what can?" Dispelling Dark Sight, he readied his claw. "Fine, if just my dagger alone can't defeat you, then my throwing stars can't either. But if I use both?"

    As if in fear, the shell trembled slightly.

  2. #12


    27, 28, 29, 30, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. 17 days, and nobody replied?

  3. #13
    Mushmom XxKiraYamatoxX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007


    I'd say not too shabby on your fighting scenes, and I'm really interested to see how this fight turns out. ;)
    Monster Hunter Tri Status:
    - Hunter Rank: HR1 (Yay, me noob)
    - Favourite Weapon: Switch Axe
    - Current Most Proficient Weapons: Switch Axe, Hammer
    - Current Armour: Barroth Set + Lagiacrus Set
    - Current Most Hated Monster: Rathalos
    (Stop flying, wings fer' brains!)

  4. #14


    Chapter 7a: Ellinia

    Julian awoke to a torrent of knocking on the wooden door of his residence; groaning, he trudged to the door and opened it. "Grendel, not that I want to criticize you but seriously, you're lying in bed at 11? Do you even know what's happened outside?" Shocked by the speaker's sharp tone, he took three seconds before recognizing her face, and another ten before fully processing her words. "Uh, Trista?" The girl rolled her eyes before shouting, "Did you even hear what I said?! Oh gosh, however you arose to the top position in Ellinia, I'd never know. You're what, 28? I'm 12, and I have to be the one to wake you up in the morning? I am going to tell you what happened. Not more than half an hour ago, a Dark Knight died near the northern border of Ellinia; the resulting explosion of his dragon caused a pulse to hit the barrier. The mages are all in a frenzy, and you're here, sleeping?" Groaning again, he asked, "And may I know, has anyone gone to investigate?" Trista bit her lip, and answered, in a much lower tone, in the negative. It was Julian's turn to roll his eyes. "Oh, all you intelligent mages and elementalists. Didn't ANY ONE of you think to go?" Trista answered, "Actually, some of the mages went out, but the moment the stepped out of Ellinia, a gigantic spirit pressure forced them to come back. I've seen some of them, and honestly, they aren't in the best of conditions. "Spirit pressure?" Trista nodded. "Something like a heavy aura, but... um... they described it as a heavy feeling of hate, almost of... poison."

    Julian bit his lower lip. Heavy aura, intolerable even for the mages? Poisonous. What is poisonous? A gigantic snake. But of what proportions? Definitely larger than five people, if it were that intolerable. But of course, toxicity isn't just measured by size alone; a snake just as large as a human can exude poison enough to destroy a whole army. Concentration of poison is the key. What creature could have that much power? Whatever it is... "Trista." She stood at attention, ready to take in every word - after all, no matter how cranky Julian was, he was still Grendel, and his analytical skills, as well as intuition, were beyond that of any other, at least in Ellinia. "Assemble a team of four, including you, comprising of three Elementalists and one Mage. Investigate what's going on, and report back." Trista nodded, and set off down the rope.

    Whatever it is... I just hope to all the gods I'm not right.

    Chapter 7b: Basilisk

    The Ant Tunnel is a cavern extending through the soil, downwards into the deepest depths of Victoria; at its furthest point is a chamber below the sea level, right underneath the World Tree. It is here that Knights take their test to become a Paladin, and it is here where the dreaded Junior Balrog resides. The pre-evolution of a Crimson Balrog, it has guarded the ancient Altar of the Paladin within the Cursed Sanctuary ever since time began, and it will continue guarding it till the end of time. Today, of all days, however, it shied away to the darkest corner, trying to avoid the monster that was now awakening below the Altar. From the Sanctuary entrance, water flowed, along with a sumptuous feast of blood - blood enough to awaken the snake that had been hibernating for a couple hundred years. Apparently, the World Tree had managed to extend its reach to a battlefield and absorbed all the blood there; most of it had leaked through the roof of the Sanctuary Entrance, the path attaching it to the Ant Tunnel and guarded by the Insignificant Being.

    Before long, the snake was entirely awake; slithering underground, towards the far wall, it burst out merely inches from the Balrog. Frightened beyond comprehension, it stood still, not daring to even exhale. Sensing that a feast was awaiting it on the other side of the Altar, it snaked around the gigantic crucifix and lapped up the blood now flowing like a torrent. After the blood was gone, it headed towards the source; as it moved, the Tauromaci and Taurospear moved aside, letting the ten feet high beast make its way up the river of blood, greedily taking it all. Just as it neared the entrance, the stream stopped; the Basilisk tilted its head up curiously. Root tendrils snaked into the cavern, and it was through these tendrils that the blood made its way down. Biting it tightly, it made an acrobatic flip that was unlike its size; now upside down, wrapped around the tendril, it snaked backwards till it emerged in a tiny space. Here, the land was parched; the snake guessed that it was nearing Perion. "All the better," it hissed, and looked around. The blood was flowing in through one of the cracks. Squeezing itself in, it made its way up, heading towards the battlefield where Ares, nearly dead, lay.


    Three inches before the fangs hit the body, the Basilisk froze, contorted in pain. Within it, a battle was raging, a battle waged by its host, the host that it had taken over in an effort to hibernate, to survive the gigantic war raging between Ragnarok and the fighters of Maple. "Keiichi..." it hissed angrily, trying to overcome the sheer will now sealing him back. With a final effort, it let out a loud cry, returning to its place in Keiichi's soul; from nowhere emerged a boy of about 16, holding a square shield in his right hand and a Sword in his left. "Damn. Wrong hand, and lousy weapons." Looking down at his white shirt and short pants, he groaned. "Damn this Basilisk. Now, how do I go about getting armor?" As if in answer, a pile of items dropped onto the ground, folded neatly. "Dark Battle Road set, Dark Babuta... what's this shield and sword?!" Musing for a moment, he stripped down and prayed that nobody would see; nobody interrupted the changing process.

    When he was done, he examined his shield and weapon closely. A symmetrical cross with rounded edges, the shield was backed by a round plate that was hidden, giving an overall impression of it being round; his sword blade tapered to a point too sharp for the eye to see. Just above the hilt, there was a golden maple leaf carved neatly in, the five leaf blades neatly fitting in with the shape of the sword. The hilt itself was done intricately, resembling an "I" with each end having two extensions perpendicular to itself, the one curving towards the sword wider. Smiling, Keiichi turned to explore the world which he hadn't seen for a century, but suddenly remembered his task. Cursing, he bent down and examined the man. Approximately 30, he was a Knight using a sword, and he exhibited an aura of sheer power and will; this strong image was tarred by the slash to his abdomen, where blood was still flowing. "Huh, this guy sure can survive. Seriously, he's been bleeding for like, half an hour? Bleah, gotta get him to the Altar fast." Shaking his head, Keiichi carried the man and his sword, neither noticing the spear behind him nor or the search party emerging from the jungle of Ellinia.

    Chapter 7c: Unintentional Rendezvous

    Kon groaned. The water barrier was slightly weaker, but it had taken him over half an hour to cause that, and by the time he was done... This is the Siren we're talking about. She's obviously sustaining the girl's life, but I have to distract it. It's definitely more intelligent and can adapt faster; also, it has only one task at hand - protecting the girl from attack. Because of its complete defense, it doesn't really have a need to attack me. Hmm... How do I distract it from its task? Before he could fully formulate a plan, he heard a sound of light footsteps heading his way. Uh oh... Turning, he saw a boy slightly older than the girl carrying a man that he recognized very well. "Dances with Balrog?!" The boy's expression changed to something resembling sheer horror; in the same moment, he put down the man. Looking over Kon's shoulder, the boy asked, cheerfully, "Looks like you've got some trouble killing that girl, huh?" Kon growled, and used Assaulter; with an astounding reaction speed, he blocked the attack with the shield in his right hand, still carrying a slight smile on his face. "Standard battle procedure - I'm supposed to introduce myself. I'm Keiichi, Knight. Pleased to make your acquaintance." Kon raised an eyebrow, and replied, "You're telling me your name? I could just bring in reinforcements and track you down." Keiichi grinned slightly. "I have absolutely no intention of letting you get away. Flame Charge."

    Kon took a couple of steps backwards as the heat of the flame overwhelmed him; moving quickly, he set up an Ice Aura to negate the effect, and used Dark Sight. By this time, the water has dried... no chance of him finding- Before he could complete the thought, Keiichi had brought his sword down, clipping his shoulder; although shocked, Kon took advantage of that opportunity to use Assassination; the first three hits connected, but just as he was about to deal the last hit, a shield blocked his advance, repelling the attack full force back onto himself. "Stunned, quite literally." Keiichi jumped backwards and slashed his sword; a flame whip flew downwards and slashed at his back. Lucky for my aura, else the burn would have been... horrible. Turning, Kon raised his claw, standing in the regulation battle stance; Keiichi did the same thing. "My name's Kon. No job, although you can probably tell that I can use skills from both Thief jobs." Keiichi nodded, and made no move as Kon casted Haste, Pickpocket and Smokescreen. Now shrouded, Kon could take his time to formulate a plan. This smokescreen follows me in the same fashion as Shadow Partner does, unless I disconnect it...

    "Band of Thieves." Five ninjas leapt from the smokescreen, heading towards Keiichi; all of them had claws and daggers. The volley of stars caught Keiichi by surprise, throwing him backwards; as he moved to lessen the impact of his fall, all of them used Assaulter; the slashes cut the top of his Battle Road with a sound of screeching metal. As the Knight stood up, Band of Thieves was casted again; the ninjas leapt at him once more, throwing stars from all directions. Before they could even get closed, Keiichi breathed heavily; the projectiles froze over and dropped to the ground, useless. The moment they used Assaulter, he just stepped backwards and watched as they crashed into the ground and dispelled. From within the cloud, a muffled voice spoke. "Apparently, you've caught on to the method of dispelling them...." A voice continued from behind him. "But it's too late." Spinning, Keiichi ducked as a dagger slashed where his chest was a second ago; rolling backwards, Keiichi dispelled the flames surrounding his sword. "Very well. You seem to be a worthy opponent," the Knight commented, this time without a single note of sarcasm; his face was expressionless. Basilisk. I'm allowing you to come out, but only on a factor of 20%. Anything more, and I'll force you all the way back. Comprehend me?

    A small hiss sounded in the air, sounding as if reluctant, but also covered with a tone of resigned agreement; at that, Keiichi raised his sword, eyes shut. Kon waited in anticipation, and his wait was rewarded with a shocking development - Keiichi's blade turned a shade of lime-green, letting off an unearthly glow. Kon laughed. "That's it, then? That's your reward for me being a worthy opponent?" As if in answer, a heavy spiritual pressure surrounded the area, forcing Kon to double slightly, knees slightly bent; even his aura couldn't hide the toxic hate that now emanated through the air. Behind Keiichi, Claire and Ares slumbered, suspended between life and death.

    Chapter 7d: Return to Henesys

    Alex and Reika entered the small town, tired from having climbed down a gigantic rise, crossing a grassy plain and then ascending the small hill. Groaning, Alex slumped against a small tree, tired. "Lexy!" a voice shouted from somewhere close, and a few people walked out from the entrance of the market, heading towards the boy now with his eyes shut, teeth clenched. As they neared him, he growled, "Yes? Anything the matter?" Before they could come up with a suitable retort, they caught sight of Reika, taking in the sight of the Bowman town for the first time. "This girl... she's..." Inspiration dawned on Alex; looking at her, he nodded imperceptibly and walked off slowly; the other Bowmen were too busy examining Reika to notice. Entering the Park, he tried to focus on his task ahead, but his train of thoughts kept getting derailed by worry; worry for the future, and worry for the Assassin he had brought into Henesys - after all, the Bowmen and Thieves were mortal enemies, and both sides took careful measures to avoid each other while traveling. Not that his classmates would care; they'd hit on a girl even if she were the right-hand assistant of the Devil.

    Arriving in front of the Bowman Academy, he entered and headed straight down the corridor, arriving at a gigantic lobby with marble tiles. Looking around at the circular chamber, he saw a turning to the left and to the right; in front was a mural describing the defeat of the Ragnarok. Although he had seen it many times, it was the first time that the mural piqued his interest; there were fighters of every class milling around the battlefield, destroying the Tauro mutations that were running amok. Strangely, the buildings around didn't seem like those of Kerning... perhaps Magatia. Shrugging, he turned right, towards where the boarding area and offices were. Heading straight for the end, he knocked at the oak-paneled door, but there was no answer. Strange... if she isn't here, then where could she be? Gently pushing at the door, he was about to turn and leave when there was a slight creak. Raising an eyebrow, he pushed harder, and the door opened inwards, revealing the desk of Athena, lighted by a shaded lamp. Nice warm colors... this whole darkened room concept makes me feel contented. Laughing slightly, he headed for the left wall and sat down on the leather couch, waiting patiently.


    Near the west entrance to Henesys, the Bowmen were rolling around on the ground in confusion. Seconds earlier, they had tried to jump Reika, but she merely casted Dark Sight; the bowmen fell through her and landed on the ground. Because her Dark Sight replaced all her biological molecules with mana that she could shroud, she merely reassorted them so that they fell right through her, because nothing was there to break their fall. Laughing, she started heading towards the town center, throwing Subis at the ground to tantalize them; some of them even stepped on the ninja-spikes hidden in the ground, causing them to jump around wildly, blood dripping on the green grass. It took her fifteen minutes to cross town without alerting the bowmen were she was; when she hit the east end of Henesys, she Flash Jumped over them, watching with derisive amusement as they continued walking out of town, unaware that she was behind them. Just as she was about to throw a stone onto the floor to alert them, something grabbed her hand, and her body returned to its biological state. Turning, Reika found herself looking at the shoulder of a girl, slightly older than her; what scared her more wasn't the fact that it had caught her in her Dark Sight mode, but rather the bow that was sheathed in her quiver - it was golden in color, and a dragon-head was barely visible near the center of the bowlimbs, with eyes made of ruby, glowing a menacing red.

    "Dragon... Shiner?!" Reika gasped, but the girl didn't seem to have noticed the exclamation; her hand was still held in a vice-like grip over the arm that was about to launch a stone at the ground. "You are... an Assassin, are you not? What are you doing in my town?" Reika tried saying something, but her throat seemed to be constricted; she managed to make a squeaking noise that aroused the derision of the Bowman leader. "An Assassin dares to walk so boldly into Henesys but can't even reply to a threat properly?" The silence was overwhelming, broken only by the grass rustling. "One more chance," Athena threatened, letting go. "What are you doing here?!" Before Reika could reply, Alex shouted, running towards the group, "I brought her here!" He stopped three steps before crashing into Athena, and bent over slightly, panting. Athena raised an eyebrow. "And the meaning of that is?" Alex bit his lower lip, and replied, "You know, that day I got kidnapped? She brought me into and out of Kerning, so it's counted as deflection. She's being hunted by the Dark Lord right now, so I thought..." Bringing his right hand up, he scratched the back of his head and gave a small grin, but was caught by surprise when Reika crashed into him; instinctively, both his hands wrapped around her back, hugging her tightly.

    Hmm. Interesting. Athena stepped backwards, anticipating a mini-war; three seconds later, she was proven right - the Bowmen, pissed at Alex having dared touch her, leveled their bows. "Alex. This is a declaration of a fight... winner gets the girl." Alex's mouth curled into a smirk. "You don't even know her name." He gently pushed Reika over to Athena, who pulled her into step beside. "Assassin. Whoever you are," Athena commented, under her breath, "I sense you're quite strong. So now, you shall get to laugh at these immature boys who call themselves Bowmen." Reika raised an eyebrow and watched as the group unleashed a barrage of Double Shots at Alex, who nimbly dodged them all and returned fire. Back and forth this battle went, the two sides only firing either Arrow Blows or Double Shots. Athena shook her head, and raised her right hand. The boys' shadows all vanished, turning into arrows which promptly showered down upon them, causing all of them to crouch down and cover their heads... All besides Alex, who merely stepped backwards neatly. "Athena, I've seen that skill plenty of times." The Bowmaster merely looked at him with a blank expression; the other boys were now standing up. "Hmm? You've seen Shadow Rain? Interesting, Alex. But I bet you've never seen the sequel."

    "What... is this?!" Alex uttered, dumbfounded - his entire body was incapable of moving. All the other boys were now making similar comments, and Reika couldn't help but smile, and comment, "The shadow depends on the body as does the body depend on its shadow. If its shadow is pinned somewhere else, then the body can't move." Athena nodded, and released the spell. "Alex, come with me. Assassin, you too. The rest of you, practice. By tomorrow, I want to see better aiming. Even with Double Shot you are extremely weak. You lack teamwork - a duo with a notion of teamwork would have been able to take Alex down, much less say the five of you." Turning, she strode away, leaving the boys meek... and angry.


  5. #15


    Chapter 8a: Inferno

    Trista stood at the northern outskirts of Ellinia, looking at the wide plateau and the vertical cliff that lay before her. "Damn, we're gonna need levitation spells," one of the mages called out from behind her. Her team of four, as Grendel had instructed, consisted of two Wizards and two Elementalists; although novice, the other three could handle threats pretty well. Trista herself was a high-ranked Elementalist, more than capable of leading the group; however, the moment she took a step forwards, everything changed.

    The spearhead of the Dark Knight from earlier had been left on the ground, remnant of the dragon's explosion; Trista had tripped over it, and now she was knelt on one knee, her head supported on the other knee. Shutting her eyes in agony, she held her twisted ankle and tried to think of any way to heal it. Amongst the two mages, none of them had a healing spell, and both her and the other Elementalist couldn't heal using water, unlike the very best. Serious deficit in my knowledge... She managed to utter "Go on without me" before succumbing to the pain; to the others, she was resting, but for her, she was floating in her inner world, blissfully unaware of her pain.


    Fifteen minutes later, Trista returned to consciousness. Strangely, her leg had healed quite well from her sprain - she knew from experience that it was the mind that was causing it, by increasing the amount of attention on the area that was injured and thus making the body channel increased amounts of resources to assist healing. Also, the adrenaline that had been released cut off her realization of the pain, although her breathing was heavy and her pupils dilated. Sighing, she stood up and hobbled over to the cliff, staring straight up at it. "Damn, how the **** do I get up without a hover charm?" Shrugging, she faced her hands palm down, and pulled the earth up; the column rose like a pillar, transporting her straight to the top of the cliff; when she stepped out, she gasped. The Rocky Road ahead of her was curved, but there was no mistaking the behemoth at the end - it was Perion.

    And it was enveloped in flames. Shocked, Trista stoned, one thought rushing through her mind: Grendel was right!

    "Grendel. Apparently, the presence, whatever it was, escaped; also, there were no signs of battle. However, mana traces left indicate a battle between two warriors, both of high caliber." Julian nodded, eyes closed. After ten seconds of deliberation, he replied, "Very well. Replace one of your Elementalists with a Mage, and head out towards Perion. I sense that soon, there will be trouble. I want the four of you to head there and destroy the sources of trouble before anything of major consequence happens."


    Cursing, Trista wondered what to do next; the most obvious would be to walk back to Ellinia, but... she didn't like failure - for a twelve-year-old, she was extremely proud of herself and her mental ability, and failure meant that she hadn't noticed things fully, that she could have done better. Turning, she stepped back on her stone pedestal and forced it to return to the place where it came from, and headed towards Ellinia.

    Chapter 8b: First Introductions

    Keiichi shrugged, and sheathed his sword, tucking it into his Battle Road. Looking one last time at Kon, lying on the ground, he sighed. "I know you're not dead; I owe you an explanation, but I don't have time. These people are nearly gone, and I gotta cart them off to somewhere safe where they can get treatment. As for you, you should get healed as well. You're talented... it'd be a waste to let you die." The Knight turned and knelt beside Claire, examining her; the watershell had disappeared, leaving little puddles of water in its wake. Without even touching her hand, he knew what was causing her to ebb away - poison. That Rouge... his weapons were probably charged with Poison. Damn, I hate to do this sort of crap... Bending down, he turned inwards again. Basilisk, I need you to help me. The snake snorted, and responded with a hiss of satisfaction. "Yeah, yeah, you get more poison, blah, blah, blah. Just help me." Bending down, he hesitated a single moment before putting his lips to Claire's and beginning to suck.


    Claire felt something on her lips... it was gentle, and yet powerful; it seemed to be doing something, though what it was, she couldn't for her life think. Just let me sleep... Her body felt leaden, and her eyelids refused to budge an inch. After a while, the pain in her limbs began to become more clear, stabbing at her with every heartbeat. Heartbeat... I'm alive?! Summoning all her will, she opened her eyes, to see a boy raise himself off her body and spit on the ground. Shocked, she sat up and shouted, "What the hell is wrong with you?!" The boy recoiled and replied, "What?! I was helping to suck out your bloody poison... for your information, there are only two places where sucking is effective, and that'd be on the mouth, and at your thigh. Would you have preferred the latter?!" Shaking his head, he stood up. "Appears you're fine now. Get up, we have to get going. The dude beside you's nearly dead." Turning to her left, she saw Dances with Balrog, lying on the ground, a large gash on his abdomen. "What the hell?! He.... Dances with Balrog?!" Keiichi raised an eyebrow. "Him? Dances... holy crap. You're right." Paling, he pulled the man up and slung his arm over his shoulder. "You, whoever you are, get up and get going. We have to reach the Paladin's Altar as quickly as possible."

    Claire looked at the boy, shocked. He can get into the Altar of Paladin? But... it's guarded by the Junior Balrog, isn't it? Dazed, she followed behind the boy, who was trying to run without dropping the man. The moment he stepped into the World Tree, he muttered, "Sorry, but I've gotta do this. Crumble." At that command, the ground beneath them crumbled and they fell downwards; just before they hit the ground, he pulled some moss around them to form a safety net, and they landed lightly on the ground just outside Sleepywood. "Whoa, you're one strong Knight. I mean, bending Earth...." Keiichi smiled slightly, and replied, "Earth is tangible, at least. Fire is a lot harder, what's with combustion and all that stuff." Claire replied, trying to keep pace, "I never thought about it that way... and anyway, I can only charge my weapon with fire, I can't create it out of nothing... although that's probably the same thing. Either way, who're you?"

    The Knight hesitated for a moment, before replying, "Keiichi. I'm 16." Claire nodded, and replied, "Claire, 14." Keiichi replied, "What the hell?! I thought you.... Whew, lucky I didn't attempt sucking poison from your thigh... although more effective, it'd probably have earned me some slaps..." His voice echoed emptily down the Ant Tunnel. Hey, that's weird. Where've all the monsters gone... Arriving at the Evil Eye cave, Keiichi glanced down. "Can we risk crushing this area? I mean, it's a pain to get down, but if we crush this, people can't get down here anymore..." Claire rolled her eyes, and answered, "The only people capable of getting past here is probably strong enough. Anyway, you don't have to crush everything, just a small hole will do." Keiichi bit his lip, and faced his palms downwards; a tiny hole appeared, barely able to let water through. Claire groaned, and suggested, "Ugh, just let us through, we can worry about it later." Relaxing slightly, Keiichi closed his eyes; everything under them shattered, and they fell.


    Standing in the middle of the Cave that Lost Light, Claire felt uncomfortable - it was the first time that she'd been here. "Cold, innit?" Keiichi asked, smiling slightly; Claire shivered in response. Biting his lower lip, he paused to summon a fire-shell that surrounded them; immediately, everything warmed up. Claire murmured a word of thanks before looking around. The path sloped down deeply, stopping at a small exit. Keiichi nudged Claire and asked another question. "What about we go for a ride?" Before she could reply, he set Ares down on the ground and raised his sword; holding it horizontally, he slashed once and watched as a fire beam shaved all the bumps off the ice, leaving a smooth ice-slope. Claire raised an eyebrow and sat down, turning back to look at Keiichi; he playfully gave her a nudge and she embarked on the most exhilarating ride of her life. When she reached the tunnel entrance, she drew her katana and let it trail along the ground, bringing her to a halt. Standing up, Keiichi picked up Ares and skated expertly down the slope, stopping inches before Claire, Shrugging, he was about to step forwards when a figure appeared out of nowhere. From legends, Claire knew this to be...

    "The Insignificant Being..." both of the Knights breathed, reverently. The figure nodded slightly, and replied, "I see you're not here for a ride. You may pass." Waving his hand, he disappeared; the stone door creaked open slowly. A mist billowed out into the passage they were standing at. From beyond came the howls of Tauromaci, eager for their meal.

    Chapter 8c: Revelation

    Alex was confused. "The reason the Bowmen and Thieves are at loggerheads is because of this stupid weapon called the Archaeion? I mean, seriously, it's a transforming bow!" Athena shrugged, and Reika asked, "Um, Athena?" The Bowmaster replied, "Call me Christine. What's up?" Reika continued, "It's not regarding the feud or anything... but-" Before she could complete her sentence, there was a pounding at the door; shocked, Christine leapt up and walked around her table, opening it; behind the wooden door was Grendel, looking haggard, and a girl. From his reverie, Alex looked up, nodded at Grendel and turned his attention to the girl beside him - she looked to be as old as Reika and him, but significantly stronger; her eyes seemed to scan the room, taking in every detail. Looks pretty intelligent... but I wouldn't know. Turning, he took in Grendel's words just as he was finishing of. " about to hit Kerning, I need your help." Christine raised her eyes, and replied, "And so what if it's about to hit Kerning? As far as I know, Ellinia's safe, so nothing's wrong right?" Grendel gritted his teeth. "Christine, can we put the grudge behind us for now? If it hits Kerning, it's gonna rush up the Swamp of Despair and hit the World Tree. A fire of such proportions..." Athena sighed, and said, "I'll see what I can do."

    Grendel nodded tersely, and turned to Alex and Reika. "I request the both of you to go along with Trista here. She's a high-ranked Elementalist, but I don't think she'll be able to handle it alone." The girl turned to Grendel with an indignant look. "Handle what alone? You only asked me to come along for fun right?!" Grendel shrugged and replied, "Too bad. You have to get to the Cursed Sanctuary and make sure the fire doesn't leak in. The fire gets in, the whole World Tree's gonna explode. What happens next... you don't want to know." Trista bit her lower lip, and replied, "Even so, the strongest thing is a Taurospear, which I probably can take down with a water spell-" Before she could finish, Reika interrupted. "Actually, it's the Junior Balrog." At everyone's stares, she awkwardly continued, "I mean, just for the record, you know?" When everyone continued remaining silent, she started pacing the room.

    "Either way, you guys should take your leave now," Grendel said, kindly, and the three children started leaving; just as they hit the end of the corridor, Grendel called out, "By the way, Alex?" When they'd paused and the boy turned, he continued, with a knowing smile, "You may find something of use when you get there." Alex raised his eyebrow, but Grendel had already turned back to continue his conversation with Athena. Shrugging, the party of three headed out of the Academy.


    Alex ran to the edge of the Evil Eye Cave and looked down at the passage: it was a steep fall without any handholds, extending into the darkness. "Now what?!" he groaned, looking at the well-like structure. Trista bit her lip, whilst Reika looked down. "I guess I could throw stars down at regular intervals to act as handholds... Or I could FlashJump down." Peering down at the void, she made an awkward expression, and reconsidered, "Maybe not." Trista sat down and looked at the passage. "Maybe I could create steps. I mean uh... it might collapse and everything, so you guys should step back." Alex complied, but Reika insisted on watching. Shrugging, the Elementalist stood on the edge and made the motion of pulling; the wall groaned slightly, before a step appeared, slightly below. Stepping down, she made the same motion again and another step appear. Again and again, she made the same movements; ten minutes later, they were nowhere near the bottom, and Trista was regally pissed. "Damn doing stuff safely, let's just do this the quick way." Drawing a wand, she waved it and drew a spiral in the air; the entire cave shook for a moment before a spiraling slide appeared, with two low banisters, heading all the way down. Shrugging, she sat down and cast a water spell; the water carried her downwards, and soon, her form had vanished below the void. The slide was now packed with water; Reika called, "Alex, we're good to go!" No answer. "Alex? Alex?!" When there was still no response, she exited the cave into the Ant Tunnel Park. Nobody was there.


  6. #16


    Chapter 8a: Tauro Surge

    Keiichi looked at the bulls charging towards them and calculated the distance. I could risk an AoE attack and leave Dances with Balrog unprotected, or I could take them on one by one. Sweating within the flameshield, he tried to reach a decision. Just as the Tauromacis unleashed a lightning barrage on the pair, he turned on the spot and vanished. Confused, they turned around, looking for the intruder that had so easily evaded the attack; in that moment, Claire took her chance. Using Ice Charge, she slashed forwards into the nearest Tauro's armor; it froze over, and the bull slowed down considerably. Hoping against hope, Claire charged flames under the layer of ice, and it melted slowly; slashing forwards, she released it from her sword and it flew forwards, just in time to connect with the lightning that was coming down; a gigantic surge of power, and a group of Tauromacis were lying on the ground, dead. The death apparently caused a rage amongst the bulls, and they bore down on her; before she could do anything, Keiichi reappeared, blocking the weapons. Looking up, he pushed gently at his weapon, and the monsters flew backwards, some crashing into the stone walls and pillars. Some of them crumbled, and the cave trembled slightly. A force unlikely to be caused by a few pillars collapsing.


    Alex was cornered. When the Elementalist was creating the stone slide, his eye had caught a crack with a slight glow from within, enough for a human to get through; curiosity got the better of him, and now, he was stuck in a large cavern with a few large dark mushrooms, charms flapping on their head. If these are Zombie Mushmoms, I'm regally screwed. No sound can get out of that chink, if I scream it'll just alert more creatures. Gripping his Dark Ryden, he took a step backwards, and stepped on a bone from a monster long gone, devoured by the giant mushrooms; the crack echoed thunderously through the cave. From cracks he hadn't noticed before, small mushrooms started appearing. "Shit!" Dashing through a crack between two of the giants, he raised his bow and pulled two arrows from his quiver, firing them in quick succession; it struck the soft flesh of the nearest Zombie Mushmom, drawing a little stream of dark-crimson liquid. Darkness runs in their blood... Jumping backwards just as one of the mushrooms gave a little hop, causing the cavern to shake, he shot another two arrows towards the same wound; it grew a little bigger, with the result of angering the creature. Raising its eyes towards the roof, it gave a high-pitched squeak. From all corners, floating creatures emerged, creatures with pure evil in their eyes, creatures with flaming balls for ears, creatures whose bodies flickered slightly.

    Alex swore.


    Claire sat on the floor, face buried in her hands. "Damn, Keiichi, I've never faced so many strong creatures at once, and I..." Tears started leaking. Get a hold! Crying in front of a guy? However hard she tried to concentrate, though, she couldn't control herself. She was tired, worn out from battle - the injury of Dances with Balrog added on to that stress. Unexpectedly, Keiichi bent down and patted her back. "Come on, we have to tend to his injuries. When we're done with that, we can rest. Okay?" Claire wiped her face and nodded. Giving an encouraging smile, the male Knight picked the body of Ares up - the blood was no longer flowing, but starting to clot. That was encouraging. The party of three hiked towards the Sanctuary, but was cut short by a behemoth appearing from the Sanctuary.

    "Uh oh..."

    The creature was brownish in color, its skin darkened and solidified by years of living in darkness and protection by the legendary bulls of the Sanctuary Entrance. Two horns extended from the side of its head, at eye-level; its teeth were bared in a menacing look, the gigantic flightless wings flapping expectantly. Having got over its previous fright, the Jr. Balrog was pissed, and very, very hungry. Raising its 3 claws, it slashed once; Keiichi barely got his shield in time to block the damage, and the resulting force caused the ground to crack slightly. "Damn you," he whispered, and slashed once using his sword; the Balrog replied in fashion, sidestepping the energy blast; it smashed into the other end of the long passage, and a loud crack echoed through the darkness. Dropping the man yet again, he jumped forwards and slashed rapidly; knowing that it couldn't possibly block the lethal weapon, the Balrog stepped backwards, backwards... until it backpedaled into the Sanctuary itself. Rearing in the large arena, the creature blew a stream of fire, and Keiichi was forced to roll aside; dropping his katana, he grabbed a disposed spear dropped by one of the bulls; the blue spearhead glowed, before turning white. "TauroSpear, heading your way," the Knight muttered, and stabbed forward; the five-meter-long weapon was more than enough to slash into the monster, causing a crimson line to drip onto the ground. "I see your descendants' names are apt." As if it understood, the Balrog narrowed its eyes and stamped one foot. Behind it, the crucifix trembled.

    "Anger doesn't serve well." Another slash. More blood.

    Chapter 8b: Near-Death Encounter

    The Mushmoms were unforgiving. Surrounding Alex, they crushed his right hand, and there was a loud snap - both his hand and his bow breaking. Wincing, he inhaled hard, and the air hit his perforated lungs with a whine; the feeling was like daggers to his flesh. Trying to hold on, he grasped at the last minutes of his consciousness.


    "Alex, hold your bow like this." Looking over at his mother, he tried to imitate her posture, but the bow kept slipping. Kagome laughed, and dropped her weapon, holding Alex's hands. "There, like this!" The boy smiled, and committed the position to memory, for future use.


    "Alex, if you need anything, don't steal from others. Ask next time, understand!" The boy sniveled slightly, and the man pulled him up, hugging him. "Remember, the wand belongs to someone else. If you need one, I can make one for you." As he completed the sentence, a small wooden stick appeared in his hands; the boy clapped his hands in delight, and reached for it; the man lifted it high beyond his reach. "What do you say?" Alex racked his mind to remember, and finally came up with it. "Thanks!" Grinning, the man gave over the weapon. "Now, I have things to do. Go play with your friends." Turning, he walked away...


    Alex roamed the streets of ElNath in confusion. Earlier on, him and the children had been playing in the woods when some men came over, dressed in stunning blue cloaks; they had made sounds of surprise and surrounded them with a magical barrier, before heading back into the woods; some of the mages were casting ice charms to save as much of the permafrost as possible. When the fire-fighting was finally done, the children had filed back to survey the damage. Some of the older children cried, but Alex was beyond emotion. El Nath was his home, and he couldn't fathom the fact that it had been destroyed, just like that. It was... impossible.


    Sitting in the small classroom, Alex studied his hands. They were slender, more like girls'... they weren't suited for holding bows, and yet he was still studying about projectile physics. "Alex, would you mind answering the question? If the wind is blowing at six kilometers per hour towards you, how much force should you put in for the arrow to fly fifteen meters in four seconds?" Standing up, he noncommittally replied, "First off, it wouldn't be advisable to shoot an arrow with such a strong wind. If you had to, though... the wind is blowing at one hundred meters per minute. Force is distance multiplied by load; assuming the weight is 0.01 grams, it will take... Actually, I have no idea." Laughing, he sat down; the teacher was smiling as well. "True, because it will take a lot more than that to solve the question. Then there's the practicalities to handle."

    The bell rung.


    In the distant recesses of Alex's mind, a bell had begun tolling, a bell trying to wake him. Opening his eyes, he saw a figure entering the cavern; pulling him from under the gigantic mushroom; dumping him at the entrance of the cave, and turned. Pulling out a weapon, it whispered, "Claw Booster." Pulling ten stars, it sheathed and threw the javelins in quick succession; it pushed back the creatures by a significant distance. "Damn you all." Kneeling down, the figure pressed its fingers to his wrist. Alex could only manage a weak croak. "Rei... ka?" The figure nodded tersely and replied, "Try to relax." Turning, she pulled out a star cartridge, containing one hundred stars; locking it in place, she raised her claw again. Flexing her hand, she heard a satisfying click as two stars moved into place, ready to mow down any enemy. The next stars hit the enemy with startling precision, striking them in their eyes; the Assassin jumped up and hung onto a rope hanging from the wall; it wavered slightly, and flew towards the wall. Crouching, she waited till the last moment before kicking herself away; launching off the rope, she flew across the cavern and threw another five stars. The giants howled in pain as the sharp points struck into their heads, softened by prolonged periods in darkness. They retreated, and the Boogies flickered for a moment before vanishing. Sliding expertly down the wall, she dashed across the now empty cave and picked up Alex, ignoring his howls of pain. Jumping down the slight, she took off at a run and started jumping from level to level, causing the boy to sweat in panic.


    The transition from warmness to ice was disconcerting. One moment, she had been in a cave full of dead Evil Eyes, and now, she was trapped in an ice prison. Looking down at the gigantic slide that trailed into nothingness, she muttered, "At least that saved my job some." Taking a tentative step forwards, she was just about to test its stability when something crashed into her; falling, she slid down the slope. Stalagmites of ice flashed by, blue streaks in an otherwise void environment. At a few points in time, white dots interrupted the darkness, Cold Eyes looking at this human flying at incredible speeds. As suddenly as the ride began, it ended, with her slamming into the stone doors; she barely waved her wand in time, and the ground increased in friction; she felt her cape grow warm. Cursing, she turned to see who caused her to fall, but all she managed to catch was a blur crashing into her. "Sorry!" The Assassin from before was carrying a figure that appeared to be crying out insensibly. " least warn me!" Dumping him on the ground, she exclaimed, pained, "Is that the payment you give me for saving your life?" The Elementalist looked at the boy, curious; his arm was curiously bent out of shape, and in his right hand, there were black fragments of what looked like wood splinters.

    "Your name is Reika, right?" The Elementalist bent down, poking at Alex's arm. "Yeah, and the guy lying there, half-dead, is called Alex." Pulling back her sleeve, she said, gently, "Alex, I can't heal broken bones, but I can at least remove the wood splinters in your right hand." The Bowman looked surprised. "Splinters? But... I don't feel anything!" Trista murmured, "This is bad." Concentrating on his hand, she let mana source for and wrap around anything that was made of earth; tying them into a string and attaching it to her finger, she pulled; there was a loud scream, followed by a hissing noise. Mist filled the area, followed by a disembodied head; at least, that's how it looked, for it was gaseous where his body would have been. Trista disposed of the formalities, settling with a nod. "The Insignificant Being. I'm here on a mission by Grendel; I'm to stop the fire spreading at all costs." The Being didn't reply, just looked on with a curious expression.

    Beyond, there was a loud howl.

  7. #17


    Chapter 9: Junior Balrog

    Keiichi gasped in pain. There was a gigantic slash across his chest, the blood hitting the stone floor with a rhythmic "drip". Behind him, Reika and Trista stood, uncertain of what to do; they had never faced off against a boos before, much less say a strong one like Junior Balrog. "Hey, the both of you," The male Knight spoke, tersely. The others stood at attention. Claire cut in, "Keiichi, we need to get Dances with Balrog out of the way..." Assenting with a nod, he considered his courses of action. "Obviously, we'll need to distract him, but how... is the problem." He didn't want to risk injuring the three girls, but he couldn't possibly defeat this ancient creature alone. "Okay, contingency plan. I'll distract this Balrog, you guys get the boy and the man out." The Balrog seemed to smirk. "You'll never get past." The deep voice echoed emptily into the space.

    An eternity, and Keiichi finally responded, his voice cold. "You'll have no choice."


    Claire was shocked. She had never seen Keiichi so serious, so detached from emotions. It was as if his mind had been taken out and replaced with a flawless computer program; his body moved quickly and fluently - always in sight, but he somehow knew how each cut should be made, how to connect his movements in one quick dance. Damn, he's also a Knight, but he's so much better... She watched as he landed behind the Balrog, allowing himself a split second to catch a single breath. She wondered whether to heed his instructions. If she did, the two injured could get treatment as soon as possible, but Keiichi would most probably get killed; if she didn't, however, she risked Dances with Balrog dying. He was already ebbing, as it was, and there had been too many distractions on the way. The boy lying on the floor moaned. Making her decision, she raised her sword.

    "Claire, just listen!" The shout came from all around, the voice echoing throughout the passage. "No." Finality. Reika raised her claw.

    The fire was spreading rapidly now - having been blocked by Ellinia's shield, it was now picking its way down the rocky slopes, trying its best to spread as far as possible, to find sustenance for itself. On the west side of the island, it was moving, slowly but inexorably, towards Kerning City. If it hit, the metal would become instant fodder, feeding the fire and causing another blast of air; the warm current going upwards would spread. The fallout that would happen later was unimaginable.

    In Perion itself, renegade Knights were busy sustaining the fire, which wasn't hard with all the dry bramble. Corpses were littered all around them, their bodies unable to tolerate such immense amounts of heat; the squad of traitor warriors were now making their way towards Sleepywood, protected by a squad of Knights. The fire was now past the Burnt Land, heading straight for the center of Victoria.

    Reika slashed once again, the modified claw slashing into the armor of the Balrog; it flinched, giving her time to execute a perfect backward Flash Jump and having three Ilbi's find its chest, adding on to the gigantic wound that had been created by the two Knights working in unison. Flipping neatly over the creature, she slashed neatly into its wings, catching its attention; barrel-rolling, she kept the beast moving while the Knights prepared a combined attack, combining the elements of Fire and Ice, harnessing their imbalance and converting it to raw power. Tossing his flaming sword over to Claire, Keiichi ran straight for the Balrog just as it was to claw Reika; punching it in the spine, he hastily rolled backwards to avoid its feet, whilst Claire jumped over him and slashed. Blue and red streaks spiraled around each other, forming colorful double-helices; a white cannon smashed into its face, causing it to groan and get thrown backwards. Reika shouted in surprise. "What the hell!" There were no movements save for the flying giant, which was why what happened next shocked Reika.

    With a little flash, Keiichi had appeared in front of her, his bare hands pushing at the wings, his heels dug into the ground, whole body tense. Holding her breath, she tried to calm herself. I'm alive... I'm alive... Gracefulness was one thing, but moving like lightning was another - even Mages and Assassins didn't move that fast. She sensed a little anger in the figure now poised in front of her. "You will not injure anyone anymore." His right fist glowed red, and the entire room was filled with pulsing energy. The Assassin choked slightly.


    "Bear with it," Keiichi whispered, and Trista tried to keep her mana from leaking out; it was Elementalist mana, and she wasn't sure whether the Knight could handle it... he probably could, though. Before her eyes, the red glow expanded and consumed the Balrog within it; there was a loud shriek as pure energy rent the beast, and she could sense the force, sharpened at the places where cutting was done, anger feeding it. Although much less smooth and graceful than his previous performance, the attack still did the name of the Knight proud, combining both raw power and magic in a brilliant display that was capable of destroying enemies completely, not even leaving a body behind. To her surprise, the Balrog was still capable of moving after the attack, and it was angered. Slashing twice, it roared and flapped its wings; claw marks were now embedded in the passage walls, the stone cracked here and there. "****!" Keiichi swore, and smashed the ground; it cracked, swallowing the Balrog in one single wave. To the party's surprise, the Jr. Balrog emerged from the hole, wings flapping slowly.

    The true surprise then came - the creature spoke. "And first, we deal with the Assassin." Keiichi easily blocked the fireball, and returned the attack; it merely brushed it off with one of its wings. "Good one. Now, what if I'm to attack all of you at once?" Barely riled at the statement, the male Knight raised his shield. What looked like a menacing grin appeared on the creatures' face, and he tore two ice stalagmites from the roof, and they fell, straight towards Alex and Reika. Keiichi swore again.

  8. #18


    Chapter 10: Rebirth

    The inexorable fall of the stalagmites seemed to happen in slow motion, at least to the prone Assassin. Still frozen after the near-death, she couldn't possibly do anything to stop it; throwing a star at it would just spread the area of damage. "Dammit," she whispered, and tried thinking. Nothing except faces flooded her mind, ghosts from a long-gone past, of Assassins who had been her friends, of her enemies, of Alex... there he was, lying across the cave from her, just as prone; both of them were about to get killed by falling stalagmites, and there was nothing anyone could do. They were falling far too fast... before lapsing into self-induced unconsciousness, she heard an utterance, something that sounded like an apology.


    Keiichi readied his fists. Holding both of them outwards, he aimed straight for the stalagmites. A single bead of sweat rolled down his cheek, hovering at his chin before flowing down his neck into his armor. This will either kill them, or save them. The ultimatum caused him to panic slightly. Just as the ice shards were about to hit the bodies, he released the fire, and it surrounded them, causing them to sublime instantly.

    The World Tree is, after all, a tree - it has its needs too. Then how is it that although the Sanctuary is under it, the cave never gets wet, or even damp? The reason is simple - the icicles are made of phosphorus pentoxide, the anhydride of phosphoric acid, is a powerful desiccant; that is, it can absorb the water from the air, provided it's in an enclosed container. The white crystalline solid is also the reason why one can see within the darkness - it generates a bio-luminescence by itself. Highly reactive, phosphorus emits a light glow upon contact with oxygen, hence the name "light-bearer" in Greek, the global language; once sublimed, the phosphorus will react with oxygen, forming a glowing spectacle before annihilation.

    The light danced around the colossal chamber, casting shadows everywhere. Trista was muttering under her breath. Two parts phosphorus, five parts oxygen... assuming sublimation and destroys four atoms of oxygen, one's still left. The oxygen- Before she could finish, she saw another flash as Keiichi pulled at her arm, as well as Claire's; using his leg, he kicked up Alex's body and was replied with a loud protest. Ignoring it, he slung the boy over his shoulder and took another step forwards. He got out of the chamber just as everything exploded into fire. Everyone was stunned, most of all Alex; Reika was still inside the flames, and her body was getting consumed. Beyond howling, he just stared, stunned; his right hand was limp, blood covering it. Keiichi stared at the fire, face blank. The sword hung, dead, in his hand, point just touching the ground. He didn't look as poised now, more like a ship with its sails torn loose, sailing off-course in a storm.

    The phoenix is a legendary creature, as ancient as the basilisk. Born from pure fire, it has a life cycle of half a century, before it turns into ashes and is reborn as a phoenix chick, ready for another five hundred years to venture the world. Its power is mystical, healing instantly upon attack and having tears that heal and temporary immortalize a human. Also, unlike other beasts, it doesn't hate easily; in fact, it often finds companions to attach itself to, aiding the human in his or her ventures. Upon its host's death, it either takes flight or gets passed on to the next generation, if the family line were continued.

    Artemis was one such person.

    Everyone was stunned. From the flames had risen a bird, a bird that radiated an aura of mystery, of love, and above all, of power. Its eyes were charcoal black, both because it existed in flames and because it seemed to be able to pierce through the eyes, digging every single thought and memory out. For a moment, it seemed to stare straight at Alex, and he stared straight back, sensing familiarity in the wisdom of the creature. Turning away, it perched itself on top of the crucifix and looked around; not far from it, the Balrog was consumed by flame; Reika's lifeless body lay on the altar, not affected by the heat; her claw was glowing red, molten metal pooling around it. The bird let out a crow and Alex winced, his right ear ringing, not having covered it in time. "Holy crap," Keiichi whispered, reverent at having met another beast, much less one that was infinitely stronger than his. Alex peered through the fire, barely able to see the Assassin, still alive even through the fire. Pointing it out to Keiichi, he asked, "What's going on?" An thought swiftly took form in his mind. Claire had apparently thought the same thing, and she cried, "Impossible!"

    A musical voice replied, a sudden change from the high-pitched shriek ten seconds ago. "Nothing is impossible, really." Everyone stared at the bird, who looked innocently back. The Junior Balrog growled in anger, and retorted, "There is. Nothing will be able to kill me-" The sing-song tone cut through the deep tone effortlessly. "That is obvious. However, we will at least be able to get our target." Flying down, it let a tear fall freely from its eyes, and it hit Ares' body. The bird shook its head sadly. "That man is dead. He is gone." Everyone stared at it, shocked. "But... but he's still healing, isn't he!" A nod this time. "Yes, but his soul is essentially gone. From what I know of Victorian rule, a Warrior leader can only pass on his or her rule at one of the three sacred spots, namely the Dragons' Nest in the Minar Forest, the Hall of the Crusades in the mountains of El Nath, and here, at the Paladin's Altar. Each of these places are a pre-requisite for Warriors aiming to master their skills, and each of these places are protected by a strong, immortal beast. As it were." The Phoenix waved its wing at the Balrog.

    Behind the party, there was an unmistakable roaring sound, that of fire.

    Kerning City's was charred, all the inhabitants now crowded at its south end. Some children watched curiously the fire pouring into the Swamp of Despair, heading straight for whatever was at the end; the people who lived at the northern end were sighing, their homes gutted till nothing whatsoever was left. All the potions and stars had been consumed by the inferno, and it was a lucky break that the storage of armor and weapons was at the south end, sparing their most precious possessions. Only one thought occurred to everyone - why them?


    The Swamp of Despair was known as such because of its complicated layout, branches from the World Tree tangling everywhere; one wrong step, and a person would find himself chest-deep in mud teeming with alligators and snakes. Monkeys lived on the upper levels of the swamp, able to look down and pelt any passing human with bananas, causing them to fall and becoming reptile-fodder. The Thief Door of Dimension was off the main branch of the swamp, through three small huts and up an immensely long rope, with Zombie Lupins surrounding it. Now, however, the challenge did not exist anymore - the fire had burned up all the branches and huts, leaving a clear salt-basin littered with dead animal bodies; the Door of Dimension now hovered over the ground, winking down with its ignorance of the ferocious power destroying the island.


    The inhabitants of Sleepywood were shocked when a ball of fire appeared at the doorstep of the town, concentrated to a point; although the Rememberer had gotten a shield up in time, the heat still radiated heavily into the town; for now, however, they were safe.


    The World Tree was dying, damaged from within by flames unlike anything it had ever known. The Tree was the foundation of life in Victoria, and all the life on the island depended on it, human or monster. Death would bring sure imbalance to the ecosystem, causing the whole island to perish. The duty of the four Job Masters was to protect the Tree, and therefore trained fighters to leave the island and destroy any force that might corrupt it, and yet, now, one was dead and another defected.

    Nothing can save Victoria Island.

  9. #19


    Chapter 11: Titanic Battle

    The Balrog had disappeared, gone into hiding from the flames now heating up the chamber to intolerable proportions, both from inside and outside; the heat was starting to aggress Claire, whose Siren could no longer stand the heat boiling away the water inside her body. Before Keiichi's eyes, her body melted, forming a creature that looked shockingly like her hosts, with three main differences - she now had waist-length white hair, navy-blue armor and weapons, and appealed to him in a strange way. At the Siren's transformation, the Phoenix laughed. "Interesting, a convention of beasts." The Siren replied scornfully. "You are the beast, not me." The bird's eyes narrowed. "Hello, we're supposed to be saving the World Tree here, can you guys put beside your personal grievances and work on it first?!" Wordlessly, the Phoenix flew out of the chamber, all the fire wrapping around it in a protective aura, and the Siren followed suit; Alex watched as they chased each other down the path to the Ant Tunnel. Keiichi sighed. "I guess we should lay him on the altar or something." Alex picked up the Warrior's sword and walked forwards, commenting, "Your weapon's really light." The Knight replied, repositioning Ares' body so that it wouldn't fall, "Yeah, I like speed over power. That's also why I can afford to hold a shield in battle." He pointed to the Crossheider, hung on his left arm.

    Keiichi lay the man down beside Reika and stood back, uttering something unintelligible. The crucifix glowed, and his body dissolved into white streaks, the holy mana flowing around the congregation and concentrating on Keiichi. A line of symbols appeared on the long arm, and Alex bent forwards. "This is... I don't recognize the language..." Keiichi smiled. "This used to be the language of the world, but it changed. Basically it's telling me that it accepted me as his successor, which also means..." Alex was surprised. "Warrior master?!" A nod of resignation. For a moment, the Bowman thought he saw black streaks amongst the white mana, occasionally forming a wing, or an arm, but he ignored it. "That's it, then. Nothing much more to do." Alex bit his lip. "Actually, uh... Grendel sent Reika, Trista and I here to prevent a fire from reaching the World Tree." Keiichi paled. "What?! When... crap, I have to go stop them!" Running down the corridor, he crashed into Trista, who had left the entrance to inspect the Tauromacis; she looked at him with an irritated glare. "Watch your- Hey!" The Knight had ignored her and continued dashing down the corridor. Warriors. Getting more stupid every day. Sighing, she continued towards the Altar.


    Keiichi found them just off the main path, battling in a disused arena, formerly a training ground for Paladins. Standing there, knee-deep in water, he could only watch dumbly as two ancient creatures battled each other for supremacy, the Siren trying to reach as high as possible, and the Phoenix trying to hit the Siren in its element. Sighing, he called out, "Will you knock it off? We're facing a crisis..." When the two beasts didn't respond, he sighed again. Calling upon his inner reserves of mana, he expelled all of it, and the Phoenix and Siren stopped, looking at him; he was glowing a light shade of neon, and his mana was leaving his body in pulses, each more poisonous than the next. "Looks like I have gotten your attention." The hiss surprised the others, a hiss that only they understood - the language of the ancients, of the beasts that were created by Time. The Phoenix crowed in return, causing the Siren to shriek with misery. Back and forth this banter went, escalating both in intensity and profanity. Soon enough, the Knight was thoroughly pissed off by the two creatures. Looking down, he muttered, "Let's end this." The other two creatures watched in amazement as his skin faded and vanished, appearing as if he had molted and burned its skin; his eyes were green, and his skin pale; his previously plated armor had become more dense, the number of plates increasing. The plates glittered like scales in the arena, seemingly giving off their own light; the fire that lit the roof suddenly seemed less brilliant. The Phoenix hissed a stream of fire in anger, contemptuous that any other creature would be able to rival it in beauty and glory. Shooting straight up, it unleashed a giant ball of fire, a ball that threatened to destroy the chamber; raising his bare fists, Keiichi held them up and they shot out a stream of liquid toxin, and the ball split into two, flying past him harmlessly. Immediately, he brought one of them down, gripping an invisible hilt - except the hilt was no longer invisible, materializing into a long katana, the blade a stunning glow of green.

    "Elemental Blades are useless if one doesn't know how to control-" The Basilisk cut the water creature off. "My host is a Knight." The simple sentence was punctuated with a slash, the green beam forming an energy ball that steadily expanded; the Siren shrieked in agony as the poison tore at its flesh, and promptly dissolved into water, emerging on the far side of the cave. Claire's skin had been torn off at multiple spots, the beautiful exterior marred by the toxin. Some of the Warrior armor's plate had corroded off, revealing plenty of flesh but nothing too outrageous. Another flash; the Phoenix had teleported right behind the Basilisk, and blown a fireball full force at it; the snake took the full damage of the flames, its scales glowing a fiery red as it attempted to spread the heat as fast as possible. Still recovering from the force behind the attack, the Phoenix was open to a water wave caused by the Siren, which doused its feathers; although uninjured, the waterlogged bird could no longer fly as high as possible; a wave of her hand, and icicles began to pelt the creatures. Angered beyond comprehension now, the Basilisk hissed and cried into the air. From everywhere, snakes began appearing, having traveled from all over the island; pouring into the cave, they assembled in small squads according to size, the largest of which had snakes that were about as tall as their summoner, and the smallest of which had sword-length reptiles. "Poison Fang."

    The two creatures watched in morbid fascination as they began weaving, spitting and biting at everything they could find; although the snakes didn't hurt much, the whole chamber was beginning to smell of decay. The Siren wrinkled its nose. "Fine then. Tsunami." The entire block of water on the ground moved like the serpents which were now struggling to move; the water rose like a large wave, threatening to swallow the Basilisk whole, and yet it still stood there, unmoving. Reacting quickly, the Phoenix blew a large blast of fire at the wall of liquid, just as the Basilisk changed into a human form and raised his meter-long sword, slashing rapidly at the solidifying and yet subliming wall...

    A loud roar erupted in the chamber; everything and everyone froze.

    Not so far away, the residents of Ereb were fast asleep. The only human souls awake were the night guards - the best fighters in Victoria, exported. All of them patrolled the gigantic castle grounds silently, with one purpose: to prevent an intruder at any cost. The person who they were protecting was worth more than their lives put together, and they knew that: the royal family of the entire world, the people who made the decisions as to how every town were governed. Just outside the palace stables, two guards were talking - two wizards, cloaked in red as a symbolism of the power they held. "Heard that they're gonna rebuild 'Nath," the younger female commented, and her counterpart replied, in a sing-song voice, "Yeah. Wonder who authorized the destruction in the first place. Raised hell a decade ago." Sighing, he twirled his wand. "What's with you, anyway? Why do you use a wand instead of a staff?" Nonchalantly, he replied, "Ease of casting. It's so much easier to conceal and wave a wand than a staff." Behind them, some nocturnal horses neighed, and he immediately leaped over the stall's wall, landing neatly on the horse; he gently stroked its neck, and it neighed again, this time softer and gentler, with almost a musical note to it. Pushing open the stall-door with a spell, he rode it out, stopping beside the female Wizard. "Want to go for a ride?" Although reluctant, she agreed and took his hand, letting him pull her up. "Don't fall."


    The night enveloped the riders in a blanket of darkness, the stars shining down almost benevolently. The roads of the small continent-country were empty, devoid of people and creatures; the stalls and shops lining the town were all closed, save the potion store which was left open twenty-four hours and manned by the family members in rotating shifts. Further on, the huts turned into luscious greenery, peppered here and there by stone and silver pavilions, constructed for the sake of letting the princess rest whenever she went on a long ride. "Scars on the face of the land," she commented, as the metal structures flashed by rapidly. The horse took a sharp right-turn just as another of the structures passed by, and the female rider saw, to her astonishment, a narrow path leading towards something that looked like a rock structure. The forest path was heavily wooded, and unlike the main road, totally devoid of architecture. As they approached, more of the landscape became apparent.

    The entire structure was a gently rising hill, wooded all the way up till the peak, which was a large meadow probably capable of hosting the royal family and the entire Guard. "Wow... That's one huge-" The male Wizard cut her off. "You haven't seen anything yet." Bringing the horse around the mountain, he headed up one of the openings; less than one mile later, a gigantic river made itself present, seeming to wind up the mountain; not far away, a waterfall could be heard. Following the sound, he arrived at the base of a gigantic waterfall, surrounded by the woods. "How about that?" She seemed stunned, but looking in the wrong direction. "What? Hello?" Turning, he looked up, in the same direction. Above, the moon was being eclipsed, brightness enveloping the darkness and eradicating it. "Holy crap." Pulling her onto the horse, he rushed all the way up the mountain, fearful of what he would see. Reaching the peak, he turned towards the west, praying he was wrong.

    The sky above the World Tree was entirely black; the tree itself seemed to be emitting a fiery red glow, further supported by the flames surrounding it from the north, all the way from the city at the far end to the borders of the gigantic forest, prominent even from this distance. His voice trembled slightly as he sent out a mind message to all the Wizards. "Alert the guards. We have a situation."

  10. #20


    good read. what will happen, i wonder

    Always looking for guildmates.

    Fave series: Artemis Fowl, Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Harry Potter, Leven Thumps, and er.... Hunting for others. Please recommend series. NOTE SERIES!!!!!

    30[x] 35[x] 40[x] 50[] 60[] 70[] 80+[]
    solo pap[] solo mm[x] solo zmm[] solo king slime[x] 1st mill[] max out buddies guild[x] get nx[]


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts